Tag Archive | mushroom

Growing Mushrooms

by OCMGA Master Gardener Tom Wentzel

UntitledAbout a decade ago, I tried one of those button mushroom kits that show up on store shelves around Christmas. The results were far from impressive. I attribute this experience to the fact that I did not take care of the kit. This year Santa thought that it was time to give the mushroom thing another try. There were kits for Shitake, Lion’s Mane and Oyster mushrooms under the tree. This time I’m following the directions and I’ve harvested Shitakes after only one week.

At about 10 days, Lion’s Mane were ready for harvest (this variety is native to Wisconsin); the Oyster mushrooms take a bit longer to produce.Untitled

Each of the kits arrive as “bricks” wrapped inside plastic bags. Consider that the key to growing any plant is to replicate their native habitat. These conditions are typically on a forest floor where there are cool temperatures and dappled light. Light is needed to stimulate growth and “tented” to provide a humid environment. Daily misting is required to keep the humidity high.

Shitakes grow on dead oak trees, therefore the bricks are made of compressed shredded oak which is removed from the bag. Lion’s Mane and Oyster mushrooms grow on standing dead trees. The bricks are kept in plastic bags as the bags simulate the bark of a tree. The brick remains in the bag and slits are cut in the plastic — these are the points where the mushrooms emerge.

This is a fun family project. Definitely worth a try.

Check out our previous blog post on growing mushrooms here.

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Mushrooms: Grow your own?

a04ae0d805d61dfc083f01cf06ba6aca--science-puns-food-humorMushrooms have no chlorophyll and do not use sunlight or the process of photosynthesis to make their own food. Most of these fleshy, spore-bearing fungi are saprophytes, which means they derive their food from dead or decaying matter, but some are parasites, which feed on living hosts.

Mushrooms appear outdoors naturally from spring to late autumn, but because some of the wild ones are highly poisonous, it is essential to learn from an expert before attempting to harvest them.

Fortunately, there are a few cultivated types, such as shiitake, that do not pose the danger of wild ones and that can be started indoors from kits sold in catalogs, at garden centers, and over the Internet.

059-cartoon-mushroom-jokeCommercial button mushrooms require complete darkness, but most of the gourmet mushrooms grown indoors need some indirect light, says Paul Stamets, author of Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms. Regarding how much light is enough, Mr. Stamets says, “If there’s sufficient light to read the instructions on a mushroom kit, there’s enough light to grow them.”

474a524eae6c55c22fc9dbea5198a69eThe growing medium of choice is wood or straw, which must be kept evenly moist. Air temperatures typically range between 50º and 80ºF. With a bit of luck, mushrooms from kits will appear in about two weeks.

Watching the process can be a lot of fun, and most kits will yield a small crop, but growing your own is not a way to save money on mushrooms. If you plan to eat them often, you’ll still be buying most of your supply.